A ranking member representing Ogoja State Constituency in the Cross River House of Assembly, Rt. Chief.Hon. Peter Odey who also doubles as Leader of the House, has attributed absence of governing councils at the local level as one of the factors responsible for the countless communal conflicts in the state.
Odey made this assertion yesterday in his office during an interactive session with online journalists.
Expressing his wish for a democratically elected government at the local level, Hon. Odey stressed that the 8th Assembly had persistently asked for the conduct of election at the local level.
“It has been my wish for us to have an existing local government system in place. I am in support of a democratically elected local government system in Cross River State and if there is anything the House has done, we have persistently advised the Executive Government to conduct local government elections,” Odey said verbatim.
On issue of communal conflicts and how it relates to government at the local level, Odey said: “I also think that part of these communal clashes we do have in our various local government areas is because of lack of government at that level. Like in Odukpani now, if you have a local government chairman there, he becomes the Chief Security of that area and he will ensure that there is peace within the area. And so, that will help governance in general”.
The two-term member believes that in the event there were councillors, for instance, they could lay hands on first-class information as to misunderstandings between one district and the other.
Lamenting the poor state of affairs at the local level of government, Odey said that “if you go to Ogoja right now and get into the local government secretariat, it looks dead. The activities down there are not helping at all.
“We in the legislative arm of government do believe that if a local government is properly constituted, it will aid reduce pressure on us as legislators. Sometimes, even before the problems could get to us, they are solved down there already”.
Further, Hon. Odey stated the efforts the House has put on ground to seeing an election for the third tier of government;
“We have done all we could as legislators. In the 8th Assembly, we screened and cleared members of CROSIEC (Cross River State Independent National Electoral Commission) and charged them with the mandate to conduct local government elections. We also passed the budget which had provisions for the conduct of elections”.
Hon. Peter also seized the interaction to advise the State Executive arm of government to, as a matter of urgency conduct local government elections, noting that it is not too late, especially now that the local government autonomy is a reality.